Reuters

Italy’s Supreme Court, yesterday, threw out an appeal by Shell and four former Shell managers to stop their trial on alleged corruption in Nigeria, reports Reuters.

The oil majors are accused of corruption in the 2011 purchase of Oil Prospecting Licence 245, an offshore oil block in Nigeria estimated to hold nine billion barrels of crude.

The long-running graft case revolves around the 2011 purchase by Eni and Shell of Nigeria’s OPL-245 offshore oilfield for about $1.3 billion. The trial kicked off last month, with the next hearing set for June 20.

The appeal was aimed at reversing the trial to the preliminary hearing stage due to what it said were procedural errors, but the court decided the appeal was inadmissible.

Nine current and former executives or contractors, including Eni Chief Executive, Claudio Descalzi, have been accused by Italian prosecutors of paying bribes to secure the licence to explore OPL-245. The field holds an estimated nine billion barrels of oil but has never entered production.

All deny wrongdoing, as do Shell and Eni, but if found guilty, those on trial could face jail.

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